Police Civil Service Selection Procedures in New York City

Comparison of Ethnic Groups

by Jan M. Chaiken, Bernard Cohen


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In connection with a lawsuit, scores on the NYPD patrolman's entrance examination and progress through the rest of the appointment process were analyzed for black, Hispanic, and white applicants. For two specified examinations, applicants' ethnicity was determined from (1) Police Department data; (2) mailed questionnaires; (3) telephone follow-up of a sample of nonrespondents; (4) matching against the Census' Spanish surname list; and (5) 1970 Census tract data. Results support the plaintiffs' allegation that in general whites score significantly higher than minority applicants on the written examination, but there were only slight differences among the groups in the rest of the process. Test performance varied among blacks and Hispanics from different New York boroughs. The main reasons recruit classes include a larger fraction of whites than the city population are (1) whites score higher on the test, (2) city Hispanics do not apply in proportion to their numbers, and (3) non-city residents who apply are predominantly white.

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